Chapter 3, part 2 *Alive?

I shiver and pull the blanket close around my body, my ribs sticking into the fibres with rebellious abandon. I scrunch my toes and hear the clicks of the aching bones. The warm movement of stiff muscles and the harsh feel of the blanket against the skin.

My clothes felt so thin, nothing could keep the cold out. I know the water had been finished just yesterday and I could feel the dryness in the air.

I hadn't heard a sound in the shelter for a few days other than the eerie echo of my own laboured breaths. I feared the worst yet couldn't go near what I supposed were the corpses of my family as it would have been too real. I found my face wet, just thinking of that.

Without thinking my skeletal arm emerged from the covers and felt for a body. Soon my bounty was found in a cold shoulder, soft and cold. yet the faintest of pulses remained in that skin. Relief washed over me and quivered in my fingers as I wretched my own body up. The floor seems unreal... so hard and unforgiving yet more real than the edges of my mind. I stumbled blind into the black, arms outstretched for signs of life. It was too quiet. I forced sound from my chapped lips.

"Are... you... alive." the words scraped like sandpaper against scabs. just Faye made a noise, an unintelligible yet alive noise. There was nothing else and my face wettened again.

My hands came upon a foot, sticking out from a cover and it moved up the leg. It was hard, cold and belonged to Lilac. I tucked a cover over her exposed foot and crept over to the face. I felt her face. She had slipped away asleep or at least with her eyes closed. Her face was so soft, like a smooth marble. I will never forget that feeling. My hands wandered across the sheets to another body. Huddled close to Lilac. Georgina and then my mother. They died together on the long bunk, hopefully peacefully, or as kindly as my mind would allow me to believe.

I went back to Faye. Clutched her to my shoulders and strained for her weight to lift.

She was so light it felt like nothing. But I could hardly feel anything. I told her that we were not going to die. Not here. We were going to see the sun one last time, or try to survive. Her hair fell against my shoulder and I pushed her onto one shoulder and grappled with the barred hatchway. The lock was stiff but after a short shove let way. The hatch was heavy. Like something was placed against it.

I stood Faye on the wooden step. Felt her sway in weariness and hold onto my jeans just for balance. I used the remainder of my little strenght and struggled against the exit. It opened and a pattering of rubble dust fell upon us. There was a small shaft of light and we glanced at our family once more. Together. I picked Faye up again and we ventured into the unknown.

The End

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